Funding Your Church Plant

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Recently I took my Bicycles, Equity, and Race class to visit a non-profit bike / coffee shop here in Portland. The focus of this new shop is to train and employee homeless youth. These teens are trained in skills like how to be a barista or bike mechanic, paired up with a mentor, and then employed as paid interns at this shop. One of the long term goals is giving them skills and the tools to turn this into a longer term career in these industries.

Towards the end our time at Braking Cycles the director mentioned something that stuck out to me. She also works for another organization which the bike / coffee shop sits under related to transitional homeless youth. For nearly thirty years the focus has been on fundraising and applying for a never-ending number of grants through various foundations. But what makes this new bike / coffee shop unique is that the goal is for it to be sustainable and turn a profit.

That is a decisive shift. Moving away from dependency on outside organizations and donors to self-sufficiency by providing a public service such as quality coffee and bike repair. As I listened my immediate response was, that’s it! That’s precisely what Intrepid is about! That one hour experience captured everything. Combining together social entrepreneurialism with ministry.

It doesn’t mean that grants nor donors are not vital. Most often they can help jumpstart something but what we need to think about is long-term sustainability. In every community where we’re planting churches what if we also launched businesses that (a) provided for our families, (b) created natural in-roads into the community, and (c) blessed our communities? That “blessing” could be in the form of services provided, products created, or new jobs incubated. In this scenario everyone wins ... the church planter and the community whether a neighborhood in the city or a small town.